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Friday, 14 December, 2018

Currie connections and a future star: the key action on Wednesday

Nicola Currie: first ride for Simon Crisford on Wednesday
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Currie's stock continues to rise

Nicola Currie returns from a ten-day absence at Chelmsford where the pick of her three rides looks to be Time To Blossom (3.00), her first mount for Simon Crisford, in the totetrifecta Pick The 1,2,3 Handicap.

If the formbook is any guide, the 5lb claimer could be in business as Time To Blossom has only ever previously won for a female rider, most recently Serena Brotherton in an amateur riders' contest at Kempton.

The way the five-year-old mare was finishing over 1m4f that day suggests this extra quarter-mile could play to her strengths as well as the more demanding track.

Currie lies third in the all-weather apprentice title race behind Rossa Ryan and Eddy Greatrex, but is hoping to get the ball rolling again this week and has another ride for Crisford on Friday.

Her agent Phil Shea said: "Nicola has not been well for a few days, but is raring to go again and the plan is to win the all-weather apprentice title.

"Rossa Ryan is five in front, but I understand he's not riding again to protect his claim and we're just one behind Eddy Greatrex."

He added: "Beyond the all-weather, the plan would be to have a crack at the turf apprentice title which starts in May."

Vale bids to defy penalty

Not many who witnessed the devastating debut of Vale Of Kent (in the snow at Chelmsford recently) will expect the resulting penalty to stop a follow-up in the Novice Stakes (4.40) at Newcastle.

As his name would suggest, Mark Johnston's three-year-old is a half brother to Godolphin's 2009 Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner Vale Of York and has clearly inherited some of the family's ability.

Always close to the pace at Chelmsford, Vale Of Kent went clear in the straight to account for the streetwise I Was Only Joking with the well-fancied Newmarket-trained newcomer Michael Corleone in third.

Johnston's jockey Joe Fanning boasts a 43 per cent strike-rate at Newcastle this month and Vale Of Kent can bag this before heading to better things.

Head goes with a chance

Connections of Head To The Stars will be happy Leicester's meeting is on.

Henry Daly's topweight has no issues with the ground, which is officially described as heavy on the hurdles course, in advance of his outing in the Golden Miller Handicap Hurdle (1.45).

Daly, who won the 2m4½f contest two years ago with The Artful Cobbler, said: "Head To The Stars just loves this sort of ground where many others do not.

"Hugh Nugent, who is the owner's grandson, gets on very well with him and is pretty efficient for a 7lb claiming amateur. He worked for Venetia Williams and is one of our best up and comers."

Head To The Stars takes on six rivals and ran out a ready winner in similar conditions at Wincanton last time.

Daly added: "He likes it at Leicester and he has plenty going for him."

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Beyond the all-weather, the plan would be to have a crack at the turf apprentice title which starts in May
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